PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Kerry Rafanelli bleeds black and white.
The Providence College graduate is a huge Friars fan. So much so, he’s been a season ticket holder for 40 years.
“You have to have something you believe in, you have to have something that’s fun and you have to have something that feels like family,” he said. “So coming to these games, it’s entertaining for me and makes me happy.”
Rafanelli, who graduated from Providence College in 1980, also has a mancave full of Friars memorabilia, including photos, stickers, basketballs, assorted apparel and framed jerseys of legendary players.
“Anything and everything that is Friartown that they could give, or I can collect, I have in that room,” he said.
Now a lawyer, Rafanelli’s office is even decked out in Friars gear, including posters, a floor seat and countless photos from the games he’s attended over the years.
His dog is even named after his alma mater’s famed mascot.
“He’s a black dog in color,” he said. “When it came to naming him, all of these other names came up, but he was Friar black. So, Friar it was.”
The Friars are on a magical run, ending their season with a 24-4 record and securing the program’s first Big East regular season title.
Rafanelli was at that historic game. He said the atmosphere was unlike anything he’s ever experienced before.
“It was chilling,” Rafanelli recalled. “I’ve seen a lot of wins, but that was a big win.”
“The student section has just simply been amazing this year,” he continued. “I’ve seen lots of student sections; I’ve been a part of them and I’ve acted like a student in the student section. But this year, there’s been an incredible outpouring of student support. It’s overflowing. They’re everywhere.”
It’s safe to say Rafanelli is a dedicated fan. He is the proud owner of four floor seats at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, and even travels with the team for nearly all of their away games.
“I cheer zealously for the Friars, it’s all positive,” Rafanelli said. “I firmly believe that I also alter five or six shots for the opposing team every night, but at the end of the day it’s all fun.”
“I like to believe that I act my age in many other aspects of my life, but when it comes to a Friar basketball game, I’m still in college,” he added.
The only time Rafanelli ever struggled to secure tickets to a Friars game was when the team made it to the Final Four in 1987.
That’s when he said his aunt, former adjunct professor Sister Mary Francis Ryan, went straight to then-Vice President of Alumni Development William Nero and told a him little white lie.
“She said ‘Mr. Nero, I’m going to the Final Four … and I need two tickets to the Final Four,'” Rafanelli recalled. “He said, ‘are you going sister?’ She said ‘yes I am.’ Sure enough, he gave her two tickets and she promptly gave them to my sister and I and we were off to the Final Four.”
“My aunt’s on the wall in my office, and I turn to her every day and thank her for what she’s done,” he added.
Now 35 years later, Rafanelli believes he will once again be heading to New Orleans to watch the Friars compete in the Final Four. He also thinks this team has what it takes to win the NCAA Tournament altogether.
“This year, anything is possible in Friartown,” he said. “We’re now the team everyone wants to beat.”
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